Beidha

A final example comes from near the southern limits ofthe PPNB, the tiny site of Beidha, south of the Dead Sea in Jordan. Its architectural development has been conveniently and incisively summarized recently by Byrd, who focuses on what he sees as a shift from communal to individual family sharing and the development of mechanisms for integrating the commu-nity-in other words, mechanisms to bind potentially fissionable elements (Byrd 1994, n.d.). His thesis is that "architecture organizes, regulates, and delimits contact between individuals and households, especially through the ability to create public and private space" (Byrd, 1994:643). Specifically he relates restriction of physical and visual access to households as indicative of their exclusionary tendencies, whereas the size, plan, quality of construction, and location within the community reveal their public functions.

The site itself is only about 0.1 ha, by any standards a small community, yet there were twenty-four buildings in the uppermost phase, apparently the entire settlement. Only a third as much area was excavated in the oldest phase, yet nineteen buildings were recovered, so the sample from this site is unusually good by typical archaeological standards. Byrd distinguished three classes of buildings—domestic, storage, and nondomestic— and tracked their changes through the three building phases. In essence, the community went from an agglomeration of small huts with easy access, many open spaces, and a small nondomestic structure in phase A, to a densely packed settlement of two-story houses with greatly restricted access and a large public building in phase C (Figure 1h).(Kirkbride shows this as a house surrounded by storage/workshop units (Kirkbride 1960:Fig-ure 21.) The seven public buildings were apparently occupied successively and were all situated in the center of the settlement, opening onto a courtyard (Figure 1h).The public buildings were always at least twice as large as any domestic structure, had very large central hearths, and lacked domestic artifacts (Figure 1d).The floor of the final such building was plastered five times, requiring a metric ton of quick lime each time.

Some 40 m off-site was another series of nondomestic buildings, floored with stone slabs, cobbles, or gravel. One was walled with large stone slabs and had a "massive stone-slab basin, approximately 3.0 x 2.2 m in size." One building also had "a very large, raised stone-slab platform and a large rectangular stone monolith" (Byrd 1994:657). It is likely, as Byrd surmises, that these structures are related to burial ceremonies, analogous to the skull building at Çayônû or the large structures with stelae at Nevali Çori.

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